Former Scottsdale accountant gets 35 years in fraud scheme

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A former Scottsdale accountant convicted of swindling six clients out of nearly $1 million will serve 35 years in prison.

Danny Wise, 57, was sentenced Friday by Judge David B. Gass in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Wise was found guilty in October of multiple counts of fraud and theft for keeping his clients' federal tax payments for himself instead of turning them over to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Wise presented a false testimony at his trial, attempting to blame an employee and a business associate.

After a 19-day trial and two hours of deliberation, the jury found Wise guilty of eight counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, and 22 counts of theft. The jury also agreed aggravating factors were proven in all 30 counts.

Wise was indicted Dec. 2, 2009 on multiple counts of fraud and theft, following his arrest on May 22, 2009.

Two days before Wise was arrested, the Arizona Corporation Commission found him responsible for a separate Ponzi-style investment fraud scheme.

Wise was fined him $5.7 million and ordered to pay more than $67 million in restitution.

He was forced into an involuntary bankruptcy by a Federal Bankruptcy Court, which ordered all of his property and assets be seized and placed in receivership for liquidation.

Investigators also learned that the Arizona Accountancy Board had revoked Wise's certified public accountant license in December 2008.

According to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Wise's first known victim in the case was a childhood friend and client of 25 years. The client asked Wise to prepare his 2006 and 2007 tax returns.

Wise told the client he filed the taxes along with payments due, totaling about $270,000, and requested reimbursement, the Attorney's Office said. After reimbursing Wise, the client reportedly heard from friends that Wise may have previously misused clients' IRS payments.

The client contacted the IRS and learned that although his taxes had been filed, the payment had not been received. He owed more than $400,000 in taxes, penalties and interest.

When the client confronted Wise, the accountant said embezzlement had occurred in the accounting office but did not admit involvement, according to the Attorney's Office.

The Attorney's Office said Wise used the same ruse to defraud the other clients.

In many instances, he continued to bill his clients even after he stole their money, the Attorney's Office said.